Nick Diaz: The Drugs Don’t Work.
“So Nick, would you agree your marijuana smoking has got in the way of your fight career?”
“Actually, on the contrary, my fight career has gotten in the way of my marijuana smoking.”
Nick Diaz in an interview with Sherdog.com circa 2007.
“Mr. Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites. A complaint for disciplinary action against Mr. Diaz has been filed,”
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer in a statement to the media.
Nick Diaz is the most polarizing human being in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. His fights seem almost secondary to his brash, not safe for work pre and post fight interviews.
He is now out for a year.
When he started his career in 2001 MMA was a different sport in North America. There was no money. The UFC had just been taken over by Zuffa, LLC and hadn’t yet turned a significant profit after 29 events. There were all sorts of groups with random three letter names promoting shows. And none of them were making money.
Nick fought a further 6 times in 2002. In September 2003 he debuted for the UFC, winning a rubber match with Jeremy Jackson via armbar. For this he made $2000 to fight and a $2000 win bonus. His pay had increased to $10000 to fight and $10000 to win by this point but after 3 losses in a row and garnering a 4 – 4 record in the league he had to be cut. From that point onwards he amassed a record of 15 – 2 with 1 no contest.
After a win outside the promotion he had two more fights within the UFC and finished both fights impressively. Unhappy with his pay, he left for the money that was being offered by other groups. In the next 5 years he fought for PRIDE FC, Elite XC, Strikeforce and DREAM. He won both the DREAM and Strikeforce Welterweight titles, the only titles that had any prestige outside UFC. This incredible run form outside the UFC all coincided with the group growing astronomically. Whilst Nick was gaining the support of die hards as one of the best fighters in MMA, most new fans didn’t scour the internet for results and video of other promotions. UFC created a new group of casual fans, many of which were lapsed fans of pro wrestling who Dana White – UFC President – repeatedly said ‘graduated to UFC’.
After the UFC took over Strikeforce, Diaz was immediately brought over to the big leagues again. As Strikeforce welterweight champion he was put in a champion v champion match with world welterweight champion Georges St.-Pierre. He decided to miss two press conferences in two consecutive days. After this, he was pulled from the fight and given a less prestigious but still main event worthy fight with MMA legend BJ Penn. After destroying Penn over 15 minutes, he proceeded to profanely call out St.-Pierre again, claiming he was scared of him.
With that one performance and interview, Diaz finally made it. A new pay per view draw was born for the world to see. ESPN, the Daily Telegraph and many other online and print sport outlets took notice. A new contract paying $200000 a fight plus PPV points.
His main event tilt last Saturday against Carlos Condit for the interim title (while GSP is nursing a knee injury) was hyped up with a series of countdown specials akin to the De La Hoya v Mayweather HBO 24/7 specials from 2007. GSP was all over them talking about fighting Diaz when he won. However, you can’t script real sports regardless of how much the presentation borrows from WWE.
After losing a 5 round razor tight decision, seemingly quitting the sport in a rage and subsequently accepting an immediate rematch, disaster struck. Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites.
After working so hard, for so long and for so little money.How can he mess up like this? It’s not like he’s not failed before. In 2007, Nick’s victory over Takanori Gomi was ruled a ‘No Contest” due to the NSAC announcing he had tested positive for marijuana. His THC levels were rated 175. For the sake of perspective, the allowable limit for THC is 15.
The debate online has been that marijuana isn’t a performance enhancing drug and that he has a prescription for medicinal usage due to his social anxiety disorder. However, you still have to pass tests. As said above he was over ten times over the limit in 2007. Fighters that have prescriptions for Testosterone Replacement Therapy still have to fall within allowable limits for their drug screen.
It’s not the biggest surprise we’ve ever seen in MMA. In fact Jason Hehir, producer for the UFC Primetime series stated on MMAFighting.com’s MMA Hour “He does nothing else, besides a little bit of herbal extra-curricular activity, he does nothing else but train, nothing.”
As a result of this second infraction within Nevada it’s likely that Nick Diaz will be suspended for one year and fined 40% of his fight purse (a minimum of $80000, probably much more when his cut from pay per view is added in.)
The most irritating aspect for supporters of the sport is that Nick Diaz was just catching on as a high level draw and attraction for the company. After a lackluster 2011 that saw the company draw significantly less pay per view viewers and arena sellouts, losing a fighter that connects with the audience as Nick does is not ideal.
The belief is that Diaz’s fans are die hard fans. They will pay to see him fight regardless or opponent. His little brother Nate is coming along nicely as a softer, more media friendly version of Nick.
Nick Diaz has the right kind of hateable charisma. People will pay money to see him beat up. His fight against home town legend Frank Shamrock drew 15,211 fans to the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California due in large part to the promotion based around Nick’s interviews. It was the 5th largest paid crowd in the U.S. in 2009.
Diaz does not care one way or another about this. He just loves fighting.
From the earlier interview with Hehir:
“I think that he’s a guy that got into it before this whole thing blew up. He was 16 and dropped out [of school] and that was 12 years ago. The UFC wasn’t what the UFC is now; MMA wasn’t what MMA is now. He didn’t get into this thing at all for the attention, he didn’t bargain for this side of it.
There is certainly the argument that you have to take the good with the bad and you have to show up to press conferences and all that but I think Nick maybe more than any guy that I’ve covered is truly just a fighter. That’s what he does, that’s what he lives.
If you go into his house it’s a bunch of fighters that live there. It’s a nice house… There’s Jiu Jitsu mats where the dining room is… There’s like a chandelier hanging over these Jiu Jitsu mats in what should be a dining room but he has no use for that, so there are mats in the room there’s mats all over the place, there’s workout equipment everywhere you look and that’s all he does and that’s not fake.”
He may not be fake but can he learn to play the game? If he can’t he’ll most likely never fight at a high level again. For the fans, for the UFC and for Nick himself, he needs to get back